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Hops and the Harvest

Updated: May 4, 2023

It is harvest time! The bursting of fruits, vegetables, and grains from the earth reach a crescendo, and farm-to-table restaurants everywhere rejoice. All types of amazing dishes are created using squash blossoms, estate-grown bulghur, and house-farmed anchovies. Well, not the anchovies part. And what beer would pair well with these dishes, you ask? Just like wine pairings, beer is an amazing accompaniment to good food. Here are a few guidelines. If ever in doubt, just pair with your favorite beer style!

Sour beer – Those who know me are aware of my wariness of sour beers. However, I think this style really shines when paired with rich, fattier foods. I would break out a sour for a pork belly dish. The tartness also stands up to earthy vegetables, such as beets and onions.

India Pale Ale – This style, on the other hand, is my go-to. Thankfully, my food go-tos tend to be spicy dishes, from Mexican to Thai. The hoppiness of IPAs and other hoppy beers cuts some of the heat, without diminishing the flavor. Dishes like pork chops with any kind of sweet glaze will also do well with the hop bitterness.

Lager – Most German fest beers have evolved over time and today all are festbiers, a light lager that has displaced marzen as the official style of Oktoberfest. Germans have been pairing Oktoberfest beers with sausages, roasted meats, ryebread and mustard for centuries. Even with the changes in beer style over time, these pairings still hold, whether you are at Oktoberfest, or someone’s back yard.

Porter or Stout – The roastiness exhibited in both of these styles make them a great companion for stews and meat pies. Imagine sipping a pint of a dark, roasty stout as you tuck into a shepherd’s pie while the rain outside soaks the cobblestones. It’s the kind of pairing that can transport you to another place. These work great with chocolate, too!

So, as you peruse nature’s bounty during your next visit to the supermarket, or farmers’ market, think beyond wine and try a beer pairing with your next meal.

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